You wake up in the morning, take your bath and put your ‘pancake’ on your face.
You wear the ‘uniform’ of the day – your aso-ebi that cost you about 35,000. The lace top encases your ample frame and you tie the glittering wrapper around the belly that bears the scars of the birth of 5 children, all gone from home to forage the world for themselves. Your damask head-tie/aligogoro is a sight to behold, standing at attention 2ft in the air in elaborate folds and curves.
“Yes…I am looking as majestic as the Madam that I am,” you think to yourself. “After all, if I no dey shine, how dem go take know say I be Big Woman?”
You are in no hurry. You will get to the church just as the last thanksgiving is given so people can see that you attended, after which you will head to the reception venue.
You get to church just in time, shuffling in and ensuring that your gold jewelry and throw make enough noise for people to turn as you hold your head up high and bestow a slight smile on your onlookers. The Bride turns too and looks, her expression one of puzzled question, before she turns back to her Groom.
No matter, you are the best friend of the Bride’s mother’s cousin’s friend’s sister. You have family connections.
After making a great to-do to get a seat (in the front, naturally), you stay in church for all of twenty minutes before making the same production to leave. You have no time for pictures- you have to get to the reception.
When you get there, you bypass the tents and head straight to the hall. There are seats and tables arranged. You pass the ones in the back and go to the front. A whole Madam like you with aso-ebi cannot sit on ‘popular side’. You go to the as-yet empty tables, with chairs placed against them and a ‘reserved’ sign and pull a chair down and sit. Soon enough the halls start to fill and you can spot several ladies dressed as you are, with the same feral gleam in their eyes, all coming to the front, and sitting on tables.
The fact that the families of the Bride and Groom, their bridal party and honoured guests have not yet arrived and sat down doesn’t bother you. The fact that the table, marked ‘reserved’, that you decided was for you but is likely for them, doesn’t faze you.
An usher approaches you cautiously, taking into account your garb and your evident age, and begins to stutter, “Er…ah…Madam…please, these seats are –”
You don’t let her finish.
“What are you saying? Do you know who I am? Eh? Can’t you see I am wearing the Bride’s aso-ebi? Eh? What nonsense! Come on, get out of my sight!” Your voice would carry across the hall if not for the deafening music being played by the DJ. The usher blinks, stutters again, then with a defeated sigh, walks away. You give an outraged ‘harrumph’ which is then followed by a self-satisfied smirk.
There are drinks on the table. You take two cans, put them in your bag and open another to drink. There are 8 seats on the table, with 8 drinks. You have already taken three and left five for seven people to share. Those calculations do not bother you.
A server puts three plates with meat, cookies and cake on your table. You wrap up all the meat in a napkin and that goes into your bag. You proceed to eat up all the cookies. Again, you are not bothered. The next server comes to drop the same on the next table and you beckon him over.
“Eh! Pssssssssssst! Bring the thing here.”
“Ah? But Madam, we are –”
“Bring it na! Can you see any here on this table?”
By this time, your table is starting to fill up with women just like you, eyeing the hors d’oeuvres and drinks and smacking their lips. The server obliges and brings the plates. Within seconds, they are emptied. There are only four women at the table. You get up and go to the next table and proceed to clear off the meat from there too. You spot another can of Maltina and decide that the two in your bag aren’t enough.
Soon enough, the hall is filled and music is playing and then more servers bring food. You begin to salivate as you see steaming mounds of rice, chunky chicken, salad and meat. Never mind that at home, you left rice and chicken too. There is just something about wedding food that makes you go wild…
The server brings a plate that you practically dive into. Within minutes, the food is gone. You get up and go to the serving points, telling them that you weren’t given food. They object and you cause a scene, telling them how you are the Bride’s auntie and do they know you and blah-blah-blah. People are looking at you but you don’t care. You are jostling with others and you grab and plate and reach towards the food to dish it yourself.
“Auntie, let me put it for you,” says an exhausted caterer, reaching for the rice.
“No, no, I want swallow,” you say, pointing to the mounds of amala and aromatic egusi with chunks of fish.
She serves you and you smile, heading back to your table. On the way you pass a man who looks remarkably like the Groom, standing and looking in bewilderment for a place to sit. He taps your shoulder.
“Ma…please is there any seat left? I’m the Groom’s cousin and my family is outside.”
You shrug. “I don’t know.” You walk on.
You get to your table and polish your food off. Then, you spot a girl outside carrying a bag you suspect is full of wedding souvenirs. You get up and accost her. You are not the only one with that bright idea. Several people are there, harassing her and she looks close to tears.
You grab a pair of bathroom slippers, a small kitchen towel, a mug and a plastic plate, all emblazoned with ‘Josie weds Joseph, Thank you for coming’. Your arms are full and your bag strap is about to break with all the cans, meat, cake and cookies you’ve stuffed in it. You are sorely tempted to take off your head-tie and use it to carry some items.
You shove the people closest to you and go to your car, to dump your spoils. But you are not done. There ladies going around with trays of foil-wrapped cake. You go to the one nearest to you and pick five pieces and turn back to the car.
You enter your car and drive out of the reception venue. You are satisfied. You do this all the time. You have another wedding to attend next week.
Now….please remind me again why I should respect you and call you ‘Auntie’ when you insist on behaving like a tout?
Written by Sifa Asani Gowon, and originally published on sifushka.blogspot.com